HWY 41 was dark and lonely with an occasional auto passing me up. The opening notes of Mozart’s Jupiter symphony came on the radio and I thought to myself what an auspicious start to the day and the symphony’s superb end will occur just as I’m getting to my destination. I was on my way to Race the Lake 2016 for my third start in this event.
Race the Lake 2016 — DIABLO CYCLING TEAM’S RESULTS
In the past year I have associated with Diablo Cycling and rode many miles either with them or chasing them. I made my entry in Race the Lake 2016 under the Diablo Cycling team and made ready my gear.
The team did very well, on the women’s side my teammate Jenny Youngwerth won the race and on the men’s side Brent Williams took third place and Andy Webb took fourth. This put Diablo Cycling on the top for the coed team competition.
Even though I am not capable (yet) of putting up such times it makes me proud to count myself as a Diablo.
Race the Lake 2016 —CONDITIONS
The conditions for Race the Lake 2016 were better than in 2015. The forecasts predicted light WNW winds and temperatures in the low 80 degree range. The sky was partly cloudy. In any event I have had more chance to train in hot weather and my approach to hydration was more thought out so I was ready for the heat.
Race the Lake 2016 —THE EVENT
I have to give a huge high-five to DuTriRun for a well run event. This is my third time participating in Race the Lake so it is not new to me. They do a great job organizing this event. I had no problems with my packet pickup, parking, finding things, etc.
The neat thing about Race the Lake 2016 over my previous two entries is that I am no longer a stranger there. I was seeing my cycling friends constantly, from my Diablo colleagues to Wheel and Sprocket riders and technicians, to people I ride with regularly.
Race the Lake 2016 — THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS A RACE AND A FUN RIDE
In the Facebook chatter leading up to this event one of my Diablo teammates observed to me that for me this was just “a ride”. I get that, but there is a timing chip on our ankles and DuTriRun records and publishes results. This means Race the Lake is not just “another ride”. I was not anxious to get going at Kimberly’s Paperfest ride like I was waiting for for the Race the Lake 2016 start. DuTriRun does a very good job charging the atmosphere with athletic race energy!
DuTriRun does a similarly great job at the end of the race. With a clear finish line and I did not hear any announcer this year (I was focusing on beating someone to the line) and before you get off of the road they trade you a finisher’s medal for your timing chip and then you may get off the road, park your bike, and commence with your recovery.
They were giving away chocolate milk and so I grabbed a couple of bottles one for me and another for Dylan. I then found my Diablo colleagues and exchanged reports. Participants in the event were feted to beer, soft-drinks, and a spaghetti meal. I was not real hungry so limited myself to chocolate milk, beers, and a recovery drink I had brought along.
Race the Lake 2016 —MY RACE
This year I started in wave six instead of wave three, I encouraged other teammates to join me and they did. I started off with Jason, Tom, Dylan, Andy, and Rod. I laid down some goals for myself and the team. Those were to:
- Finish together as a team
- Finish in less than four hours
- See Dylan place at or near the top of his age division
Jason, Tom, Dylan, and I started near the front of our wave and Andy and Rod (Andy’s father) started further back. We waited for the preliminaries and the waves in front of us to start and then the race officials ordered us to the start line!
They gave us the ten second notice 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-POLAR ON!
Instead of wasting energy on anxiousness, we were pedalling. The wave started out fast making 25 mph and we continued at that pace and then a few leaders broke away and the group let them and then we settled into the wave’s pace of 21 mph or so. I worked my way up to the front where the group oddly enough was riding in single file. I tried to ride on the right side of that line trying to get people to double up but it wasn’t working, people up front were intent on riding single file. So I got in line and rode, again every now and then I would pass someone and fill a gap but it was all steady state.
Race the Lake 2016 — A BREAK
When we got into Oshkosh I dropped back and located Dylan and he told me he needed to stop. I talked to the rest of the team and they told me they would continue rolling. Dylan was out in front of the wave and I was in back of the wave. Our break ended and I had to chase to catch Dylan’s group (which was a group of wave six and other wave drops) and once again we settled into a routine.
In Neenah and Menasha it finally hit me one team was doing the work and they were maintaining a very steady and constant pace of about 21.5 mph. I worked my way to the front and struck up a conversation with this team which was from West Bend Wisconsin and I helped them lead the group we were in and eventually I took a long pull. During this time I also had the pleasure of talking with one of the drops from the Filipino cycling team in Race the Lake 2016. He told me they were a group of Filipino cyclists from around Chicago-Indiana.
Race the Lake 2016 — HIGH CLIFF
Once we reached the top of the lake I surrendered my spot up front and sought out Dylan and settled in beside him for the run up the second half of the race starting with the High Cliff Climb. Our plan was not to attack the climb but to take it easy so we had lots of margin to chase at the top of the hill. At the top of High Cliff was the first bottle exchange zone. I finished my first bottle of drink and grabbed a bottle of water from a volunteer. Dylan stopped to pour the contents of the bottle he received into one of his bottles.
Race the Lake 2016 — HELPFUL RACE TACTIC
For Race the Lake I purchase a couple of quart water bottles from a gas station and drink the water. I then mix up my own drink (¼ cup of pure maple syrup, ¼ tspn salt, 3-¾ cups of water, I am going to try a different mix this season yet) and put that into my disposable bottles. That way I just dispose of the bottle in drop zones. I mixed up 3 bottles in the above style. I placed one each in my cages and one in my jersey’s pocket.
Race the Lake 2016 — GOING SOUTH
I slowed down to let Dylan catch up with me again and then we chased and caught a group. On Lakeshore Drive we settled in and it was a mix of chasing groups, grupetto work, and riding with groups. A memorable moment was we caught a pair of riders (or they caught us, I can’t recall right now) and we joined them. One of the two was strong and was doing all of the work and once I recovered from the chase we started a two person rotation. Looking back our grupetto was now three members, we dropped the anonymous cyclist. We continued this work and caught a larger group and then I settled into the group. This group contained a number of friends.
Unbeknownst to me Andy and Rod were chasing us. Andy caught us and yelled out but unfortunately I did not hear him and he dropped to rejoin with his father. I rode with the group for a while and then I dropped back to find Dylan and IIRC I dropped off from the group as Dylan was off the back. We rejoined each other and continued with the determined work.
Race the Lake 2016 — FACING LAST YEAR’S DISASTER ZONE
Now Lakeshore Drive was coming to an end and we approached Triple-Hell. County Highway HHH is hard to call a climb because its grade is not severe at any point, but it is a long steady uphill and all of our cheese comes from cows and not goats (ie us residents of NE Wisconsin don’t have much chance to climb). We got on the H3 and rode it out. Eventually, Dylan dropped from me and I adjusted my pace accordingly but now I had to decide on slowing down even more or dropping Dylan. A rider passing me let me know my teammate was on his way. So I hung on, County G came and I took the turn and in Marytown. I took one look over my shoulder and could not see Dylan and so I put power to the pedals! Yes, I dropped Dylan.
At this point I started a cycle of chase, catch, rest, drop, and repeat. I passed people I recognized and joined up with some Diablo (wave five) women riding together. They asked where my partner was and I confessed to dropping Dylan. Then on a run up to a short sharp hill they cheered me on and I stood up and powered over the top of the hill. Shortly after leaving my teammates I caught another friend and his partner and I joined with them. I moderated my pace and we had set up some rotation. Eventually Tom and I left Jim behind and continued on. At one point Tom tried to get out for a pull and his legs were no longer capable so I moderated my pace and we continued to ride together.
Race the Lake 2016 — THIS IS THE END
Finally we reached “The Manna From Heaven” and the climbing in earnest was over, time for some downhill rolly fun. Tom and I high-fived and we proceeded to descend. I picked up the expected (and welcomed) speed but did not attack it. We finally finished the rollers and then I attacked dropping Tom. Quickly I came upon another cyclist but now I had automobiles (intersections were controlled but otherwise the roads were fully open) on my left so I was pinned in and had to slow down. We reached the bottom of the descent there was an intersection and once we cleared the intersection I was free to hammer again. I started to pass cyclists and saw a group ahead which I caught and took some rest and yes, I then jumped out and attacked again!
My riding friend Ben and one other from the group came out to play. The other guy then started to help and we traded pulls, Ben ended up dropping off and as we approached the right turn to take us to the finish line my playmate told me he had one pull left and he jumped out and pulled. We got around the right took the left and I poured it on. The finish was in sight!
Race the Lake 2016 — A SPRINT FINISH (sorta)
Also in sight was another cyclist and yes I resolved to beat him to the line. This was not a group sprint there were perhaps three of us on the approach to the finish. So my brain screamed POWER TO THE PEDALS and I closed the gap! The legs were not happy and briefly I gave into their demands but I once again ordered POWER TO THE PEDALS, the legs complied and with feet to go the roles reversed the other cyclist was faced with overcoming a gap! Visually, I edged out the fellow I was sprinting against. I have no idea who that was or in what wave they started in but I am very certain I finished in front of him.
I turned off my Polar, a volunteer and I exchanged my timing chip for the participant’s medal and I proceeded to find Diablos, friends, and recovery. Five minutes later Dylan crossed the finish line and shortly after that Jason, Tom, Andy, and Rod all finished.
Race the Lake 2016 —THE NUMBERS
My Polar shows my Race the Lake 2016 took four hours and fifteen minutes. Not the sub-four hour finish I was goaling for. However, I held back on a number of occasions and I don’t ever recall dropping because I was unable to cope with the effort. When others did catch or drop me it was because of my race plan for the race.
Max Speed: 38 mph
Max Power: 754 watts (I believe my FTP to be around 250 watts (subsequent testing shows 245 watts))
Max Heartrate: 164 bpm (at the finish line!)
Max Cadence: 123 rpm
Speed: 20.9 mph (21 mph, officially my speed is 20.6 mph)
Power: 148 watts
Heart rate: 130 bpm
Cadence: 90 rpm
The total climb my Polar report is 1,027’ but Strava reports about 50% more climb than that.
Race the Lake 2016 — GRADES ON THE PHYSICAL
My food plan was completely adequate. My wife had cut and wrapped up some suman (one of many Filipino varieties of rice cake) plus lots of GU. I had suman left over and I did not consume a single GU.
This is also another area where I greatly improved. I based the hydration plan on a maple syrup recipe I had rode with for a while. This recipe is easy to make and the ingredients are easy to find. I mixed up three quarts and put into disposable bottles. I finished the first quart just before High Cliff where I picked up a bottle of water, the second quart just before the Marytown bottle drop and I finished about half of the last bottle before the finish. I don’t know how the plan would fare vs. serious heat but it was perfectly adequate for Race the Lake 2016.
The week before the ride my Strava fitness and form report showed a fitness level above where I was the previous year. However, in the week leading up Race the Lake 2016 I was unable to get out on any rides due to personal events. Strava shows my fitness level was similar to my start last year. I know I’m fitter and stronger than I was last year, off season training helped and the rides I have been doing show it. I’m staying with faster folks and my average speeds and distances are all up.
Race the Lake 2016 —GRADES ON THE MENTAL
- Handling: C.
- Leadership: B.
- Racing Tactics: B+.
I give myself a C because my handling was fine, but at no point was it challenged. Every corner I took was well within my capabilities and I needed no special handling to avoid any problem.
I worked in advance of the race to setup a team effort and people responded to that effort. Jason and Tom moved down a wave and Dylan moved up a wave. We started together and in the runup to Oshkosh we were communicating if not working as a team. Also in general terms I took a couple of pulls and was calling out turns to the group. It was obvious I was the hare to many people serving to inspire them to greater efforts. This is the area of my biggest improvement.
Another area of major improvement. While I did chase and break away often, I did so much more intelligently. The waves in front of me this year provided plenty of dropped riders to ally with. Dylan and I took full advantage of that and we would join a group or grupetto and stay patient. When we would see someone up the road we would chase, catch, and recover. After I made my break from Dylan I kept that pattern up and a number of times I would slow up to help and be helped.
Race the Lake 2016 — Overall: B-Overall I had a very satisfying race. It was satisfying to see my power numbers creep up over the race and it was a steady effort from start to finish. Usually my max heart rate occurs early in long rides. It was very heartening to see my max heart rate occur at the finish line. It was a good feeling to speed across instead of creeping across the finish line. I improved my time by a half-hour and Dylan improved his finish by a full hour. Dylan did not finish at or near the top of his age division, he needs full Diablo racer help to do that, but I accomplished my mission.
Race the Lake 2016 — GRATITUDE TO MY SPONSORS
I would be very remiss to not express gratitude to those I know and those I do not know. To all the people I ride with I say thank you. It isn’t only your fitness and bike savy that helps me but it is just the fact I can count you as a friend and you put up with me and my sense of humor. Many of you will drop back and help me with a tough ride and keep me going at a high level. I appreciate that and I am working to emulate that!
Thank you to the Recyclist for being a great place to hang out and being a sponsor!
I also have to say thanks to Wheel and Sprocket, again a place where we all know each other by name and for giving me back wasted watts. Also, how can I leave out Cranked Bike Studio? Another great place to ride and hang out.
Also to the anonymous riders who I worked with at Race the Lake 2016 I say thanks. Especially to the fellow who worked with me to the finish line. I’m sorry I could not catch your name or did not thank after the finish line.
Race the Lake 2016 — GRATITUDE TO DIABLO CYCLING
To my Diablo teammates, I say thank you. Some confession here. Growing up I was always the last person on the floor being selected when we were dividing into teams (football, baseball, kicker, what ever). So it meant a whole lot when Justin asked for my e-mail last year. Hearing your stories adds steel to my already strong determination to join you as being among the best cyclists in the state!
Race the Lake 2016 — GRATITUDE TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
The last thanks goes out to the non-cyclists in my life. Especially my wife Lorie who is okay with my cycling. I can’t do this without her help and patience. I also thank my friends and family for putting up with my tales of cycling adventure.
Like Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony my whole ride was great!